When other kids were looking for entertainment during the April school holidays, a group of South Auckland youngsters were not only amusing themselves but ensuring their families, friends and school mates had something to do, too.

Abigail, Caleb and Joshua Leulua'i-Alo, Torie Pickering and Minia Prescott were part of a 50-strong cast performing The Wizard of Otahuhu at the Māngere Arts Centre — Ngā Tohu o Uenuku. They'll do it again in July when the production moves into Q Theatre.

Aged 9 — 13 years old, they'd agree with the 35 per cent of New Zealand youngsters who say they feel "brilliant" when they do creative things.

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Why?

The five performers struggle to remember a time when they weren't listening to or playing music, dancing, acting or drawing. They believe being involved in the arts helps them develop confidence, learn new skills, make friends and, most importantly, have fun in a safe and supportive environment.

Torie, 13, describes theatre as her "team sport" and says performing is a chance to test yourself and show others what you can do.

"I do theatre for the feeling it gives me but I can't really describe it," she says. "It's almost surreal but it feels really good."

Abigail, 11, says she was influenced by older brother, Joshua, 13, when she saw him playing guitar and wanted to have a go, too. Joshua, in turn, credits their dad and uncle for getting them involved. The sister and brother say their entire family sings and plays music together which brings them closer.

Abigail thinks the arts are a "safe place" to try new things, take chances and find out what does and doesn't work: "We're all a family and if anyone gets embarrassed, it doesn't mean anything. You get a chance to be yourself."

Since 2014, Alison Quigan and Troy Tu'ua have co-directed a new production each year, thanks to funding from Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board. The Wizard of Otahuhu is their most successful.
Since 2014, Alison Quigan and Troy Tu'ua have co-directed a new production each year, thanks to funding from Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board. The Wizard of Otahuhu is their most successful.

Her younger brother, Caleb, 9, put in a scene-stealing dance routine during The Wizard of Otahuhu. He also plays guitar, loves singing, acting and, he says, anything to do with the performing arts.

"I like that you can make new friends and learn new stuff and make something for your family and community that they will really enjoy," he says. "You just get into a conversation with the other people in the show and it's fun."

Minia, 11, says it helps people to express their thoughts and feelings.

"I'm not shy girl — I can express my feelings and emotions but doing theatre really helps me to do that and I know it helps some kids who do feel shy. It's like Caleb says — we can create something really good for our families and communities with all the people we get to perform with."

• The Wizard of Otahuhu will be performed at Q Theatre from July 10 — 14